Thursday | 23 Jun 2016

Rally Rewind: Poland 2015

As we gear up for the PZM 73rd Rally Poland (30 June - 3 July) here's a flashback to what happened there in 2015.

This was the rally where Ott Tänak got off to a flier, Andreas Mikkelsen almost got the better of Sébastien Ogier and an 11th hour shunt had Jari-Matti Latvala reaching for the radiator repair putty.

Friday 3 July
Unexpectedly hot weather, tricky tyre choices and the dreaded road cleaning effect made for a fascinating opening leg which was dominated early on by Mikkelsen and Tänak. By the end of the day however defending champ, and 2014 Poland winner, Ogier (above) was on top by 2.1sec, heading Mikkelsen and Latvala in a Volkswagen 1-2-3.

Mikkelsen set the early pace before Tänak claimed a hat-trick of stage wins, building a lead of almost 10sec by lunchtime in his Ford Fiesta RS. But as temperatures touched 30˚C, tyre choice became a crucial factor in the afternoon and many drivers lost time on soft rubber which quickly wore out. Road opener Ogier got the best of the soft tyres and climbed from third to first.

Mikkelsen's early charge was blunted when he slid into a field but Tänak fared worse - losing almost 17sec with broken brakes and a poor tyre call. Hayden Paddon held fifth in his Hyundai i20, ahead of home hero Robert Kubica by 1.5sec.

Mikkelsen’s choice of hard compound tyres gave him an edge over Ogier on Saturday.

Saturday 4 July
The scene was set for a terrific battle for the lead between Ogier and Mikkelsen. Despite acting as road opener, Ogier extended his advantage to 7.2sec in the morning. But as temperates hit 32˚C in the afternoon, Mikkelsen’s choice of hard compound rubber gave him an edge over Ogier’s mix of hard and soft, and he reduced the deficit to just 5.6sec. Mikkelsen reckoned he could have been even closer had it not been for hanging dust in the penultimate stage.

The fight for third was just as intense. Latvala held a 5.9sec advantage after day one but, despite an opening stage spin, Tänak won two morning stages to head the Finn by a tenth of a second at the mid-leg service. A rejuvenated Latvala briefly regained position but the Estonian added a third win to end the leg with a 1.5sec lead. Paddon retained fifth ahead of his team-mate Thierry Neuville, while Kubica survived two overshoots in his Fiesta RS to hold seventh.

Sunday 5 July
Ogier repelled Mikkelsen’s fierce challenge to secure the win by 11.9sec and net his fifth WRC success in seven rounds. But Volkswagen lost out on a 1-2-3 after Latvala crashed into a tree in the final stage, gifting the final podium spot to Tänak (below).

Latvala was lucky to finish at all. The impact broke the radiator on his Polo R and he worked furiously on the liaison section after the stage to make repairs to ensure he could drive to the podium. However a 40sec penalty for checking in late dropped him to fifth.

The beneficiary was Paddon, who followed his stellar performance in Italy the previous month with another great drive to finish fourth. He headed Latvala by 10.1sec with  Neuville completing the top six 19.8sec further back.

Neuville rolled in the penultimate stage but was quickly back on his wheels to finish ahead of Kris Meeke. The Ulsterman struggled for confidence after a roll at shakedown, but moved ahead of Kubica when the Pole punctured in the final stage.


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